Calumet City sues ex-attorneys, says they won’t cooperate with new lawyers, who have ties to Speakers Madigan, Welch

South suburban Calumet City, which is led by Mayor and Democratic State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, has gone to court against its former lawyers, saying they have refused to turn over city legal documents after Jones canned them and replaced them with lawyers associated with former House Speaker Michael Madigan and current House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch.

Calumet City filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court on April 4 against the law firm of Odelson Sterk Murphey Frazier & McGrath.

In the complaint, Calumet City notes Jones, upon becoming mayor in May 2021, immediately fired the Odelson firm as the city’s corporation counsel.

He replaced them by naming Madigan associate Michael Kasper as city attorney, and Speaker Welch’s firm of Ancel Glink as corporation counsel.

Following the appointment of Kasper and Ancel Glink, Jones instructed the Odelson firm to work with Kasper to transition the city’s legal representation. Instead, Calumet City alleges the Odelson firm has steadfastly refused the city’s request to turn over legal documents the city needs to deal with several pending litigation matters.

Further, the city alleges the Odelson firm has “continued to act as though it represented” Calumet City.

The Odelson firm, of suburban Evergreen Park, had served as Calumet City’s lawyers since 2003 under former Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush.

Qualkinbush and Jones had spent much of the past few years sparring in court over mutual attempts to manipulate Calumet City’s electoral process to prevent the other from running for mayor.

Jones had served in the Illinois state House of Representatives since 2011, representing the 29th House District, which includes Calumet City.

Before that, Jones served as a Calumet City alderman for a decade.

Jones eventually set his sights on also becoming mayor.

In 2016, a Jones supporter moved to introduce a ballot measure, prohibiting Qualkinbush from seeking more than three terms in office. Qualkinbush and her supporters used a procedural maneuver to block the referendum from the ballot.

Qualkinbush responded with a ballot measure prohibiting anyone who is also elected to an Illinois state office from serving as mayor at the same time.

Jones challenged that referendum in court, after the city refused to place his name on the ballot.

The election went forward, and Jones apparently won a narrow victory.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Jones’ favor in March 2021, effectively declaring him the winner.

The city had been represented by the Odelson firm in the election-related court fights.

The replacements tapped by Jones also have powerful political affiliations.

Kasper, who was named city attorney, has built his career representing Illinois Democratic politicians and legal positions. Kasper has served as general counsel for the Illinois Democratic Party.

He has served as former Speaker Madigan’s attorney.

Kasper also spearheaded the legal attack on the efforts to amend the Illinois state constitution to reform the method by which the state draws legislative districts, a process now dominated by Madigan and his political allies.

Most recently, he led the effort to torpedo a legal challenge to the deeply gerrymandered partisan state legislative district maps enacted by the state’s Democratic supermajority, and signed by Gov. JB Pritzker.

The firm of Ancel Glink, which was selected to be Calumet City’s corporation counsel, is affiliated with current House Speaker Welch.

Welch replaced Madigan, after a small group of Democrats partnered with Republicans against the Democratic majority, denying Madigan another term as Speaker in early 2021, as federal investigators indicted members of Madigan’s inner circle on corruption charges.

Madigan, who resigned his House seat rather than simply become a backbencher in the state House, was himself recently indicted on corruption charges.

Welch had served as a partner at the Ancel Glink firm. His wife, ShawnTe Raines-Welch, also is a partner at Ancel Glink.

After becoming Speaker, Welch decided to “step back” into an “Of Counsel” role with Ancel Glink. Typically, attorneys who are Of Counsel, are seen to be independent practitioners who desire to affiliate with a firm for professional reasons, without abandoning their outside practices.

Welch’s wife, Raines-Welch, is currently running for Cook County judge.

In the complaint against the Odelson firm, Calumet City is seeking a court order declaring Odelson is no longer the city’s attorneys, and must return the city’s legal files, plus pay the city’s legal costs.

The city is represented in the lawsuit by attorneys Kathleen M. Kunkle and Mary Jean Dolan, of Ancel Glink, of Chicago.

Proft,Feeds,News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago

via Cook County Record

April 8, 2022 at 08:15PM

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